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Three drinks a day ups breast cancer risk: study:
Last Updated: 2007-09-27 7:49:07 -0400 (Reuters Health)
By Michael Kahn
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Postmenopausal women with elevated white blood cell (WBC) counts appear to be at increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, including breast, colorectal, endometrial, and lung cancers, a new study shows. Higher WBC counts also raise the risk of dying from cancer, according to the study.
The proportion of white blood cells (WBC) in the circulation can be used as an indicator of infection or inflammation.
Dr. Karen L. Margolis from HealthPartners Research Foundation, Minneapolis, Minnesota and colleagues studied the relation between the baseline WBC count and newly diagnosed breast, colorectal, endometrial, and lung cancers in 143,748 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). All of the women were between the ages of 50 and 79 years old, and cancer-free at the outset.
Women with the highest WBC counts had a 15 percent higher risk of breast cancer, 19 percent higher risk of colorectal cancer, 42 percent higher risk of endometrial cancer, and 63 percent higher risk of lung cancer than did women with the lowest WBC counts, the authors report.
Death from breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer was higher among women with the highest WBC counts (compared with women with the lowest), the investigators say, as was non-lung cancer and total-cancer mortality.
"A WBC in the upper range of normal (above 7 or so) should be on (doctors’) radar, especially if it is persistent and unrelated to any known cause," Margolis said.
"Of course," Margolis emphasized, "most people with a WBC in this range will not develop cancer or cardiovascular disease in the next 5-10 years, and the relative risk increase for cancer is quite small — relative to smoking, for instance."
SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, September 24, 2007.
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